Be a cheerleader for your teen’s career goals

teen's career goals

High school is all about equipping our teens to become independent, a huge part of which is preparing them for the world of work. Parents and carers are often the primary influence on their teen’s career goals, so being their champion could help them succeed.

Parental influence on your child’s education

“Parents are the number one influencer over their children’s post-school decisions, and play more of a role than their teachers, careers advisors, or friends.”

– Lucy Sattler, CEO of Study Work Grow, 2021

Lots of career education happens in schools, but your input as parents or carers can’t be underestimated.

A study back in 2021 found that:

  • 48% of respondents felt that their parents strongly influenced their career path
  • 40% felt pressured to follow their parents’ career advice
  • 1 in 10 Gen-Zers (those born between 1997 and 2012) said their parents started to influence their career paths when they were 5 years old or younger

So, what can you do to support your teens career goals and aspirations? Here are some simple tips you could try:

Encourage exploration

Talk with them about your job and the pathway that got you there. Have conversations about people doing the jobs that impact your life every day – the visible and invisible ones. Helping them to “see” more of the jobs that are out there could inspire them to look beyond the few jobs that they’re already familiar with. Encourage your teen to have career related conversations with other friends and family too.

You could also encourage your child to explore lots of subjects, try a range of extracurricular activities, or volunteer in different ways. Exposure to a variety of experiences could help your teen to identify their strengths, interests, and potential career paths. Attending career fairs, workshops, and events together is another great way to help broaden their horizons.

Research together

Get involved in researching different career options with your teen. Read jobs ads together, share videos with them about cool careers or jobs you’ve never heard of.

Look at the:

  • educational requirements (there’s usually more than one option)
  • job responsibilities, and
  • potential growth in each field.

Online resources, career websites, as well as informational interviews with professionals in various industries could all provide valuable insights. Not only will they learn more about the jobs out there that interest them, but so will you.

Encourage self-awareness

Knowing your own interests, abilities and values is another important factor when it comes to making good career choices. As seen above, exploration and research could improve your teen’s self-awareness, as could these ideas:

  • Talking about what they think is important in life. E.g. do they want to work 9-5, or would they prefer shift work? Do they want to work with people or would they love to work with technology? What work life balance are they looking for?
  • Providing positive feedback about their strengths, future goals, and interests could boost their motivation and help them feel confident in their decisions.
  • Chat about the things that seem to bring them joy or satisfaction and why. This could be from school subjects or projects to hobbies. Then think about careers where these things could be incorporated.

Start goal setting

Help your child set both short-term and long-term goals aligned with their aspirations. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps and setting realistic expectations could prevent teens from feeling overwhelmed. It’ll also increase their sense of accomplishment as they achieve milestones along the way.

Here are some examples of goals you could encourage your high schooler to think about.

Keep up at school

Exploring careers and making future plans is brilliant, but not if it’s at the expense of your high schooler student’s school work. After all without some of the foundation knowledge or prerequisite skills, it could make achieving their goals trickier. If they’re struggling, you could:

  • Help them to prioritise their time
  • Plan some dedicated study time at home, maybe removing some of their chores while they catch up
  • Speak to the school about additional support
  • Help to find (or provide) study resources
  • Find a tutor
  • Most importantly, offer reassurance and celebrate their academic achievements.

Get some work experience

Encourage your teen to make the most of work experience placements at school. Find volunteer jobs (at school or within your community), or get part time work during their holidays or after school hours. Sampling lots of jobs is a great way for them to work out what they’re good at and what they enjoy (or don’t). As well as understanding what work is all about, gaining skills, and starting to become more independent.

Talk…often

Remind your teen that you’re a a safe space to share their dreams, fears, and uncertainties. Setting times for regular check ins could really help to keep them on track with which ever goals they’ve set and allow you the chance to be their cheerleader.

Find a mentor

A mentor could provide guidance based on their own career experiences or offer opportunities for your teen. From family friends, teachers, or professionals in your child’s field of interest. Mentorship can provide valuable insights, networking opportunities, and real-world advice that can significantly impact your child’s career trajectory.

Help keep their dreams alive

As parents, our role is not only to guide but also to empower our high schoolers to pursue their dreams with confidence and resilience.

If you’d like more resources that might help, you’ll find a great starting point on our website. And there’s stacks of Guides that you might find helpful too.

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